09 April 2009

More transgender deities


A bit more Wikipedia detective work taught me more about transgender deities.

As it turns out, Avalokitesvara, who is the original Indian male incarnation of Kwan Yin, was himself the Buddhists' reinterpretation of similar Hindu gods. A common theory holds that Shiva was the god that Avalokitesvara was modeled after, though it may also be Vishnu or some other god.

And in Hinduism, Shiva has a female consort named Shakti. The Hindus also recognized that while Shiva was male and Shakti was female, they simply were two different aspects of the same being. To that effect, they visualized the two sharing one body, and called it Ardhanari. Ardhanari is depicted as a half-male, half-female figure (usually the female half is on the left). Incidentally, some Japanese drag costumes carry the same theme even today, where the wearer gives only the left half of his body the femme treatment.

Wikipedia on Ardhanari

It's interesting to know that Kwan Yin's predecessor, like Kwan Yin herself, did not neatly fit into a gender box. More importantly, this also demonstrates the Hindu realization that divine concepts are too fluid to fit into a gender box anyway. Contrast this with Western religions, where gender roles have been more clearly defined (in favor of females in the earliest religions, and in favor of males in the Judeo-Christo-Muslim belief system).

When it comes to Perfect Girl, I need to touch on these spiritual items a bit, though Kwan Yin will be the one who takes more of a prominent role. And while Sarah's airline gave up on India after two attempts, Sarah will surely be visiting other locales where Hinduism is somewhat of a factor - possibly Thailand and/or Singapore.

As for Vishnu, he is the one best known for sprouting multiple arms. More than eight arms, and the blur of arms was simply described as a thousand. Of course, Kwan Yin also sprouts up to a thousand arms. I don't think Sarah has that ability, however. :)

Personally, however, in terms of the image, I prefer that of Kwan Yin - a classy goddess that inspires comfort among those who see her. She may not be overtly sexy like Aphrodite/Venus or the Hindu goddesses, but I prefer sexiness to be subtle anyway. That's how I need to present myself as well - and by extension, Sarah too (despite her well-documented exhibitionism).

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